The concept of Hanna is undeniably derivative. It’s a TV show about a girl (Esme Creed-Miles) who’s raised by her dad to be a killer – and is based on a movie that already bears a striking resemblance to assassin thrillers like The Bourne Identity and Salt. However, since original writer David Farr adapted his own story for Amazon Prime Video, it’s become apparent that Hanna has a lot more to offer than the usual hitman-on-the-run fare.
Over the course of last year’s first season, Farr hit the key beats of Joe Wright’s 2011 film (teenage girl living in a forest is trained by her father, leaves the forest, discovers the real world, faces the bad guys who created her) while giving Hanna a coming-of-age plot to go alongside the bombs and bullets.
In the forthcoming second season, out today (July 3), Farr has taken that idea and run with it. This time, he’s built the story around a whole school of genetically modified terminators who are being primed to slip into the real world, ready to kill at a moment’s notice. We asked the cast why Hanna season 2 will be even better than the first.
They’re leaving the movie behind
The major bits of the film have either been played out or ignored completely by now, and thus, the new season is free from the shackles of the past. “Hanna’s doing her own thing,” explains Creed-Miles, who found herself working with new screen partners. “The relationship between Marissa and Hanna is so fun to play, and I think it’s going to be really exciting to watch that dynamic unfold.”
It’s part action, part high school drama
Even with its high concept of genetically altered babies being groomed to become perfect killers, Hanna humanises its tech-augmented youngsters to the extent that, at times, you’ll feel like you’re watching a high school drama. “Don’t worry, you will get your action,” says newcomer Gianni Kiehl, who plays Jules, one of the murderous new recruits. “It’s almost like a teenage girl boarding school, and these trained assassins can’t escape natural friendships. All the issues they have with their friends are the same [as in other teen shows].”
The bad guys are well-hidden
Every young action hero needs a status quo to rail against, and in season two, there’s an influx of shady government agents trying to keep Hanna on her toes.
Enter Anthony Welsh as the effortlessly charming Leo Garner, a government suit with a hidden agenda. “You [shouldn’t] know if the person you’re following is good or bad, because it keeps you on edge,” he says. “I like ambiguity, because, to be honest, it’s much more interesting when it’s a bit more complex, when maybe the bad guy’s doing something for a good reason, that they’re entirely justified in their actions.”
Hanna’s not a rookie anymore
With these new batch of episodes, Hanna is growing up – and thanks to her past adventures, she now knows a thing or two to pass on. No longer the student, Hanna has become another lost soul’s mentor. “I think it’s her way of processing the grief of losing Eric,” says Creed-Miles. “I think she heads into his world a little bit, particularly going to the forest with Clara [played by Yasmin Monet Prince]. I think it comes from a good place, that she wants to protect people. She’s so much more self assured.”
Get ready for some serious fight scenes
It’s fair to ask: why not just create super soldiers? Why ask young children to be physically dominant fighters? Well, it’s all in the planning. These pint-sized enforcers are not just being asked to kill, they’re being hidden in plain sight. Who would expect a high school cheerleader or class geek obsessed with getting straight-As to stab them in the back? It’s a fair plan, but the set-up only works if we believe that these youngsters can fight. And they can definitely fight.
Despite her inability to handle shuttle runs when production started, Monet Prince plays Clara (the girl Hanna freed in last season’s finale) with buckets of energy. “We had an amazing stunt team who really worked me out,” she says. “It was a lot of training and I had to put my all into it. It’s a mind thing as well as physicality.”
Gianna laughs at her co-star. “It was so sick being in a room with you when you were doing a fight scene,” she says. “Because you had a click in your head like, ‘I am a warrior now!’”